Archive for October, 2015

Will the universe unfold as it should?
October 18, 2015

I have spent countless, honestly, a ridiculous amount, of hours pondering this federal election.

I woke up today as nervous as I did the day I was elected to Council in my own town. Why are some of us driven to care so much about the outcome of the vote? Who knows. But I can tell you, my life would not be the same without it. And despite the butterflies and total disregard to household detail, I’m grateful for it.

As the sun sets on another general election, I’m thinking back to the first time I voted. My guy lost.

That’s been the trend (with one exception), I must admit. But if I get any sleep tonight, it’s because I think this time is different. You see, it’s not a general election for me, it’s a generational one.

So I will lay bare all my votes this past so many years. I hope I remember most of them. But I’m getting to the age where the details get a bit fuzzy.

1984 – I voted for Jean Jacques Blais – a Liberal Cabinet Minister. A stand up guy. He wrote me a letter of reference for the Parliamentary Page Programme. When offered six tickets to the Queen’s State Dinner in Toronto that same year, he invited high school students instead of campaign donors – I made that list. All round stand up guy. Got pummelled by a nice guy named Mo. Tough lesson. Something about “patronage” and “not having a choice”. We always have choices.

1988 – As a young economics student, I was enthralled by the possibility of “free” trade. I voted Conservative. The Liberal incumbent, who I would eventually work for, won handily. He understood that serving the constituents was his number one job and they rewarded him for that. Lesson learned.

1993 – I voted for Kim Campbell. Her house was two doors down from my apartment in Vancouver. I learned that being a good neighbour was more important than politics.

1997 – I honestly can’t remember. I don’t think I voted Liberal because the candidate had spelling mistakes in the flyers and I was in the publishing business. Fickle, I know.

2000 – I voted for Joe Clark. I always liked him. Still do. No go.

2004 – Again, not sure. Maybe Jean Charest. He was a Minister when I was a Page. Nice guy. Capable. young, promising. A girl can dream. He lost too.

2006 –  Likely Conservative – I liked (and still like) Colin Mayes, Mayor of Salmon Arm and new federal candidate at the time. They won. Just barely.

2008 – Liberal – though I was uninspired by the local candidate. Was seeing that my 2006 vote might not have paid the dividends I’d hoped for.

2011 – Green – Elizabeth May continues to be a powerful and inspiring voice. I hope tomorrow’s winner remembers that.

2015 – This time, I’ll vote Liberal. And it’s the first time, I feel great about the candidate AND the leader. I feel good about the vote for my parents (whom, I’m sorry to say, haven’t figured greatly in my previous votes). My mom is, to say the least, not a fan of Harper. My dad is unsure about “young Justin”. I hope they don’t cancel out each other’s vote. But I know they’ll vote as they need to because they are honest, determined, smart, kind and considerate. But mostly, I feel good about a Liberal vote for the young people in my life. My kids, my nieces and nephews and their friends, my students, the young people I get to work with every day. It’s their Canada now. And I want them to have that.

So maybe, just maybe, the lesson is that when you cast a vote for you, it doesn’t always turn out as you might have liked but when you cast a vote for the benefit of the people you love and care about, things work out.

Trudeau Sr. was famous for quoting Desiderata by Max Ehrmann “The universe is unfolding as it should”. Here’s hoping.

Please vote.

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For the first time in my life, I will vote to elect a Prime Minister who is younger than me.
October 14, 2015

For the first time in my life, I will vote to elect a Prime Minister who is younger than me. I feel as though this is more than a general election, it’s a generational election. I’m excited at the prospect of being a young country once again full of ideals, ideas and innovation and for the young people in my life who are full of promise, potential and possibility.

By the same token, I feel like our national leadership has skipped a generation. Where was our leader from our generation? That’s the challenge of my statistical cohort. A big bulge of population ahead and a smaller and more capable one behind. 

Let it be our legacy that we give the next generation the chance that we missed. A real and genuine chance to shape the next generation and to take the place at the international table that we all know, on some deep cultural level, is the legacy of the leaders that came before.

I have total faith in our young people and I chose them over more of the same. It’s their turn.

You’ve got this. I know we’ll help in any way we can. We helped them plenty, it’s our turn to help you now.

heart emoticon

Lou

I elect to challenge assumptions
October 2, 2015

This column first appeared in the October All Month edition of the Friday AM in Salmon Arm, BC
 
A federal election is a most excellent opportunity to challenge assumptions. Our news feeds are filled with promises, statements, attacks and assumptions that need to be challenged. The future of our communities and our country depend upon our ability to rationalize all that is put forward in exchange for our precious vote. 
 
My take so far:
 
1) A long election campaign is worthwhile giving Canadians more time to decide.
 
Not so fast. A long election campaign means that the Caretaker’s Convention is in place for the Federal Public Service. No decision that shall lock in the future government to a course of action can be implemented. Seventy-eight days of fewer decisions has a direct impact on the business of running a country, running provinces, and running municipalities. We’re sidelined to some extent during such a long campaign. It’s my view that this unilateral decision is one for which we all pay in the short and long term. Plus, I think we could have done it just as well in 40 days. 
 
2) A failing economy is the fault of government. 
 
That’s false as far as I’m concerned. We compete on a global scale. The price of oil is controlled by those who have the easiest and quickest access to the resource. Our oil takes more time to get out of the ground and to market. The industry knows this, and that has had the greatest impact on the downturn in the Canadian oil industry.
 
It does point to the need for innovation, automation and specialization. Government can foster a climate that motivates business to change. But the change is ultimately up to the market to implement. We are leaders in science, engineering, international development, non-profit management, and resource management but we have to show the next generation that we believe in them by giving them what they need to succeed as early on as possible through education and infrastructure. But there is risk involved. 
 
3) A low tax environment will create jobs.
 
False as of late. Prior to 2008, that statement may have been the case. As it is now, we live in an ultra-low interest rate environment combined with a low-risk business environment. Yet money isn’t moving at the rate it once did. Money is like water: if it doesn’t flow, growth slows. There is, by some estimates, 650 billion dollars of dead money sitting in corporate bank accounts because the appetite for risk is not what it once was.  Unspent money can be expensive, as it turns out. 
 
Ninety percent of the Canadian economy is small business. It’s more difficult to access credit despite record low rates. When the largest share of the market has more difficulty accessing capital, the whole model falls apart. It’s my view that there is a direct correlation between access to credit and economic growth. If you don’t believe me, ask your small business owner friends about their relationships with their banks and multi-national suppliers. If we protect cash at the expense of reasonable risk, we slow things down. Cue the second quarter of 2015 of the Canadian economy. 
 
4) Cuts are bad. Surpluses are good.
 
Again, false. We need to stop talking about cuts for the purpose of surpluses. We need, instead, to talk about productivity. Something as Canadians, according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), we sorely lack. Some things need to be cut as public dollars need to be spent as efficiently as possible. And a surplus is just another way of saying that government took more than it needed. If a federal surplus goes directly to pay down debt after all the needs are met or to fund reserves for future public projects, then it’s worth it. But it has to be part of the plan in the first place. 
 
5) Canadians don’t understand the complexities of economics.
 
False. We are all economists. Economics is the business of managing households. We make economic decisions—powerful ones—every day. We are the most powerful economists in the system. How you spend your household budgets, what you buy, what you save and where you invest has far more impact on the economy than what any party of any stripe might have you believe. With personal debt levels at record highs, we likely know more than government about the real balancing act that is household management—or economics. 
 
6) Your vote doesn’t matter.
 
False. It always matters. But we like to vote for the “winner” and if we aren’t sure, we don’t vote (that’s just a theory). Running an election for the sake of defining a single winner is only of benefit to the winning party. But all parties represent some risk and some benefit. I don’t believe in the all or nothing approach. I don’t believe we can afford to take that view any longer. 
 
Which leads me to may last point. Please cast your vote for the local representative that you believe will best represent and engage us as an innovative, caring, contributing, and capable community. Some will tell you to vote for the conductor of the orchestra. My preference is that we elect good musicians who are in tune with the rest of us.